“This gradual swing back into us”: Active duty Army spouses’ experiences during homecoming and post-deployment reintegration.

Drew, A. L., Blankenship, A. E., Kritikos, T. K., Jacoby, V. M., Dondanville, K. A., Yarvis, J. S., Sharrieff, A.-F., McGeary, C. A., Blount, T. H., Young-McCaughan, S., Peterson, A. L., & DeVoe, E. R., for the STRONG STAR Consortium.
Jun 20, 2022

Journal of Family Issues, 43(7), 1946-1967.

There is acknowledgment that deployments can be stressful for military spouses; however, less is known about their experiences post-deployment. This qualitative study examined the post-deployment experiences of 16 female spouses, whose active duty Army husband had returned from deployment within the previous 2 years and who had a young child during the deployment. Spouses reported that the time surrounding their husbands’ return was one of the great transitions, often accompanied by stress. Most families were able to work through challenges and show positive adjustment over time. However, some spouses described severe post-deployment challenges marked by disconnect from their partners; three of these were spouses whose husbands had posttraumatic stress disorder. The findings address how spouses prepared for their husband’s return, their reunion experiences, the process of reintegrating their husband into family life, and individual changes in the partners post-deployment. Facilitators and challenges to adjustment were identified as potential targets for interventions.